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Go North Music Festival includes band that personifies true grit

St. Joseph Island Festival runs Friday and Saturday
20220705-Goodnight Sunrise official band photo-supplied photo-01
David Kochberg and Vanessa Vakharia of Toronto rock band Goodnight Sunrise will form part of the musical lineup at the 2022 Go North Music Festival in Richards Landing this weekend, July 8 and 9, 2022.

After performing in Sault Ste. Marie at Loplops in 2019, Toronto rock band Goodnight Sunrise is looking forward to making a return to the region with an appearance at Go North Music Festival this weekend.

Go North will be held at Richards Landing Centennial Grounds on St. Joseph Island, starting Friday night and continuing Saturday afternoon and evening. 

“We’re so excited to come back,” said Vanessa Vakharia (keytar, vocals) of Goodnight Sunrise.

Goodnight Sunrise is a five piece band consisting of Vakharia and David Kochberg (guitar, vocals) as its core with a changing lineup of backup musicians. 

The band formed in 2011.

“I always wanted to be in a band,” Vakharia told SooToday on Tuesday, reflecting on her prior attempts to get into the music scene.

“When I was in high school I was determined to be a rock star. I tried out for Canadian Idol and literally got kicked off stage after two minutes of singing I’ll Never Break Your Heart by Backstreet Boys. I got kicked out of my high school choir. At the beginning of our band career I was told I was the worst singer in the entire world, so we’ve really been through it.”

Far from being bitter though, Vakharia said all that criticism sharpened her own determination and that of her bandmate Kochberg to persevere.

“We were so determined. We met in 2011 and started this band and decided to go for it.”

The band got its break in 2018 when it was asked to open for Bon Jovi at the Air Canada Centre.

“It validated the efforts we put in, in such a crazy industry. So many people are told to give up their dreams so often, and here we are just sticking with it,” Vakharia said. 

“I would describe us as high energy rock and roll. There are shredding guitar riffs, really hooky singalong vocals and all of our music is about perseverance. It’s about grit, it’s about positivity, it’s about belonging.”

“Music for us has been really cathartic, especially through the pandemic, a way of persevering and a way to release our emotions, but it’s also our way of connecting. People feel so disconnected. We’re so divided in so many ways but when we put on a show or put out a song it’s an invitation for everyone to just come together…it’s an invitation for everyone to come together for that moment and remember we are all more alike than we are different.” 

Goodnight Sunrise has toured Canada, the U.S. and Europe.

“It is our greatest joy and honour to be able to take our music around the world,” Vakharia said.

The band performed as part of Tallin Music Week in Estonia in May.

“We got there and we were actually playing on the Russian border. We were playing in unity with Ukraine and we were standing on one side of the river and across the river you could see Russia. There was a giant fortress there and we were singing a cover of Neil Young’s Rockin' in the Free World.”

That was a moment to remember, Vakharia said.

“That’s the power of music, to bring hope in times of crisis. When you don’t know what else to do, at least you can sing. The whole audience was singing along with us. It makes you feel that there’s something you can do and something you have to share with the world.”

“We have heard ‘no’ about a thousand times. For young musicians I would say our new song Wait for It is about all the people who told us to give up on our dreams, that we should just move on and not quit our day jobs because the line goes ‘I’m still here because I’m not there yet, so just wait for it.’”

“That’s my advice for musicians. Just because you’re not there yet, it doesn’t mean you’ll never get there. Every single ‘no,’ every single failure, every single rejection gets you one step closer to the success you dream of,” Vakharia said.

The video for Wait for It was released Tuesday.

Goodnight Sunrise has released CDs, but Vakharian said all of its newer material is available on any streaming service.

“I would stick with that for now so you can get the good new juicy stuff and the video will be out on YouTube.”

Goodnight Sunrise and its gritty, determined yet light-hearted spirit seem appropriate to be part of the line up for the 2022 Go North Music Festival this weekend, as the Sault and area celebrates summer after the dark days of the pandemic.

The festival’s lineup includes Saturday night headliners, Juno award-winning rock band Crown Lands. 

The Saturday line up also includes singer-songwriter Charlotte Cornfield - described by Rolling Stone as ‘Canada's Best-Kept Secret,’ Thunder Bay rock band The Honest Heart Collective, garage rock trio Royal Castles, rock group Taming Sari as well as local talent The Uncanny Valley and Cass FM. 

The festival will kick off Friday with a special opening night concert at Richards Landing Centennial Grounds with blues singer-songwriter Jay Pollmann. 

Information on Go North - including tickets, concert line up, concert times, vendors, a photo gallery and contact information - can be found on the event’s website.